Page 1

ESSAY ON EUROPEAN CINEMA Cinema in Croatia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom

Generalitat de Catalunya Departament d’Ensenyament CFA Teresa Mañé

F.I.L.M. Grundtvig Learning Partnership 2012-1-IT2-GRU96-37199

CONTENTS pages Foreword ........................................................................ 3 Introduction .................................................................. 4 The Croatian cinema .................................................... 5 The German cinema ..................................................... 7 The Latvian cinema .................................................... 10 The Italian cinema ...................................................... 12 The British and Irish cinema ..................................... 14 The Romanian cinema ............................................... 16 The Spanish cinema ................................................... 18 Useful websites .......................................................... 20


FOREWORD This essay has been written collaboratively by several GES2 students from CFA Teresa Mañé (Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain) with the help of some teachers from the same school and other institutions taking part in the Grundtvig F.I.L.M. project. This essay is one of the products of this project. It has not been an easy task to summarise so much information into a meaningful essay, because that involves choosing contents. Both students and teachers have worked very hard between March and May 2013 to read the contents provided by several sources (a careful research has been carried out and lots of websites have been useful), choose the relevant information and, last but not least, write clear texts to make them easier to understand. The aim of this essay is to provide its readers with an overview of European cinema, especially that of the countries involved in our F.I.L.M. Grundtvig learning partnership: Croatia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom (with emphasis on the Irish cinema). Therefore, the text informs the reader succinctly without over informing. The essay is divided into eight parts: the first one is an introduction to the European cinema making the readers discover some key aspects about the seventh art (a term coined by Ricciotto Canudo) in Europe, whereas the other parts are focused on the history of the cinema in each of the above-mentioned countries. At the end of this ISSUU book, we have added a list of useful websites (most of them in English) that will motivate everybody to go more deeply into everything the text refers to. We all hope that everybody enjoys reading this essay. Finally, we are very grateful to all the members of our F.I.L.M. Grundtvig learning partnership for their information and advice.

CFA Teresa Mañé (Vilanova i la Geltrú) June 2013


INTRODUCTION It’s not easy to deal with the main features of the evolution of the cinema in Europe, especially in the partners’ countries involved in our Grundtvig learning partnership project. First of all, as everybody knows, Europe is the cradle of cinema; in other words, the birthplace of what has been known as the seventh art. Thanks to the Lumière brothers’ work, the first public film screening took place in Paris in 1895 and from there cinema spread all over the world. Furthermore, Georges Méliès made the first science fiction film in France in 1902, by using special effects. During the following years, some short silent films were produced in several European countries. In the 1920s several influential movements blossomed. On the one hand, we must mention the Expressionism and Kammerspiel in Germany; the Expressionism showed an overwhelming dark atmosphere, full of vampires, demonic scientists and golems. Kammerspiel portrayed complex characters, often carried away by violent reactions, in a fatalist context. On the other hand, as regards the French Impressionism (also referred to as ‘narrative avant-garde’), it drew inspiration from paintings and literature. A long way from the central Europe, in the Soviet Union, Sergei Eisenstein, who was born in Riga, introduced an innovative approach to the cinema: the montage. The introduction of sound brought about new trends in the European cinema. We have to mention the Poetic Realism (with Julien Duvivier, Marcel Carné as well as Jean Renoir), which was successful in France despite its heightened aestheticism showing bitterness and disappointment. This movement had a great impact on the Italian Neorealism and the French Nouvelle Vague. Some years later, the Modern film theory and criticism emerged in France, where André Bazin founded the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, in which critics and directors belonging to the French New Wave (like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut) wrote. The spread of dictatorships in many European countries (with strict censorship) resulted in the nationalization of the cinema and the production of propaganda films, directed by film professionals faithful to these regimes. Thus, import barriers were often set and the film industry became a propaganda tool to indoctrinate people because of its widespread popularity. These types of films were produced for a long time in Eastern Europe (until the late 1980s), under the influence of Communism, which cut off film contacts with Western Europe,


where democracy and freedom encouraged creativity and innovation on the whole. Therefore, after the Second World War, lots of trends appeared over the years; for this reason, it is considered that since the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century the author’s cinema (with outstanding directors) has been highly developed, though some influential movements has also emerged, like the Italian Neorealism, which introduced true outdoor settings and amateur actors as well as social subjects. This trend had a great impact on the films produced in other countries. At the end of the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s a lot of directors started a successful career, especially in Eastern Europe, after the collapse of its communist regimes. New filmmakers started to show their talent by dealing with controversial issues, taking part in a wide range of festivals throughout Europe and, what is more, winning awards, which made their careers take off. The most prestigious international film festivals in Europe that have enabled the public to discover and admire film masterpieces are especially three: the Berlin International Film Festival (also called the Berlinale), the Cannes International Film Festival and the Venice International Film Festival. Apart from these three festivals, nowadays there is a wide range of other renowned film festivals in Europe and some of them are well-known worldwide. Needless to say that nowadays, as far as cinema is concerned, there aren’t barriers in Europe and in the world, which means that quite a lot of film professionals have got used to working in an international environment.

THE CROATIAN CINEMA When the Yugoslav state was founded in 1918, there were 115 cinemas and some films were shot. A strict tax law overwhelmed the film industry, which hardly produced films in Yugoslavia between 1920 and 1940 (no more than one or two dozen films). We should remember Okavjan Miletic’s effort, who was a master of 16 mm films at that time. In 1939 only one cinema ticket was sold. During the Second World War Ante Pavelic talked about creating a Croatian film which was limited to some propaganda short films. But the Yugoslav cinema was created by the Maquis. Rudi Vavpotic (an actor) and 5

George Skrigin (a famous international photographer) took part in the liberation armies with cinematographic services. The film industry was nationalized in September 1945. The first Yugoslav film was Slavica, based on the Maquis’ fight. This film was shot by Viekoslav Afric and photographed by Skrigin. Yugoslavia produced 38 feature films and nearly 1,500 short films from 1945 to 1955: those were, according to F. Hanzekovic, "the pioneer days." Almost everything was to be created in the art of film. The film industry was directed by a specific ministry but it was finally decentralized in 1952 to make production and distribution easier. The Yugoslav film industry was controlled from several places: Avala, in Belgrade; Bosna, in Sarajevo; Jadran, in Zagreb; Lovcen, in Budva (Montenegro); Triglav, in Ljubljana; Vardar, in Skopje, and also from various cooperatives, such as Ufus, in Belgrade. All these societies increased the number of co-productions abroad, with some excellent creations (Zadnji most -The Last Bridge – and Cesta duga godinu dana -A year on the road - for example). In 1955 Yugoslavia had five studies and produced more than a dozen films. Its film industry had undergone a serious crisis in 1952-1953, due to a sharp drop in attendance at the cinemas, but afterwards the industry experienced a new flowering and the number of cinemas increased: in 1954 Yugoslavia had 1,300 cinemas. A new generation of talented film directors stood out during the following decades: the best one is Krsto Papić, who in the film Story from Croatia (Priča iz Hrvatske, shot in 1991) evokes the hopes of the mass movements in 1971 and its repression by the communist regime. It’s also worth mentioning Zvonimir Berkovic, Rajko Grlić and Vatroslav Mimica, who are very remarkable Croatian directors in the Yugoslav cinematography, in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between what is really Croatian and what is not. Since the end of the war, some young filmmakers have stood out: in Maršal (Marshal Tito's Spirit ), Vinko Brešanuses shows the ambivalent feelings of many citizens towards the figure of this leader. Potonulo groblje (The Sunken Cemetery), by Mladen Juran, and, above all, Fine mrtve djevojke (Fine dead girls), by Dalibor Matanić, both films made in the 2000s, received good reviews and were very successful abroad. Finally, after the political changes in 2000, the Croatian cinema has flourished again and has produced between five and ten feature films every 6

year. The Ministry of Culture also finance jointly about 60 minutes of animation every year, apart from documentaries and experimental films that have a greater cultural prestige in Croatia and in other countries from the former Yugoslavia. The current average attendance is 2.7 million viewers for a population of about 4.5 million. As regards the film festivals in Croatia, the Pula Film Festival is the oldest film festival in Croatia and the most visited cultural event in this country. Other important film festivals are held in Motovun, Split, Zadar and Zagreb.

Cartoons in Croatia

We must point out that Croatia is a country with a great cartoon production. Zagreb stands out with its own animated film school Zagrebačka škola crtanog filma (Zagreb Cartoon School). As a matter of fact, the first animated films were produced in Zagreb in the 1930s. In the 1950s and 1960s this type of films started being successful thanks largely to Zagreb Film, a Croatian film producing company that was founded in 1953. Original drawings and scripts by talented authors outshone realism. In 1961 the Oscar for the short film Surogat (known in English as Ersatz and The substitute), directed by Dušan Vukotić, represented a step forward in the development of this school. The interest in cartoons goes on at present and Croatia has achieved international recognition as a result of the adaptation of a tale by Ivana Brlić-Mazuranic: Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića (Lapitchthe Little Shoemaker), an animated children’s series directed by Milan Blazekovic in 1997. However, the creativity of the pioneers of the genre seems to have been vanishing over the years to give way to a more conventional style, in line with the international market. The Croats are still great animation film fans and Zagreb organizes a global festival called Animafest Zagreb.

THE GERMAN CINEMA The history of cinema in Germany started at the end of the 19th century, when the first film screening to a paying audience took place. In these early 7

years upper class audiences were attracted by the cinematograph; later on, trivial short films were shown as fairground attractions to all kinds of people. The first cinemas were set up in cafes and pubs. The first standalone cinema in Germany was opened in Mannheim in 1906 and little by little more cinemas appeared. People got used to seeing new silent films (especially from Italy and Denmark). The outbreak of World War I and the boycott on French films led to a process of concentration and partial nationalization of the German film industry, which resulted in the founding of Universum Film AG (UFA). After the World War I, the German expressionist cinema boomed. This type of cinema combined both symbolism as well as artistic imagery (as well as light and shadow) and films focused mainly on crime and horror. The most popular expressionist films at that time were Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, 1920) and Friendrich Wilhem Murnau’s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; or simply Nosferatu,1922). The Expressionist movement was very important during the 1920s and had a great influence on American horror films. During the 1920s, apart from the UFA, there were over two hundred film companies only in Berlin. Throughout this period Germany had a highly developed film infrastructure and produced plenty of films. As a result, the film criticism appeared. But little by little the recent Expressionism disappeared and new movements emerged: firstly, New Objectivity, which tries to show reality and some controversial issues like abortion, addiction, homosexuality and prostitution; secondly, Bergfilm (developed mainly by Arnold Fanck), in which individuals are shown fighting against nature and, finally, Kammerspiel or ‘chamber drama’, which emphasizes the characters’ impulses and intimate psychology by means of camera movements. At the end of the 1920s sound cinema appeared and boomed, just before the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1933. Der blaue Engel (The blue angel, 1930), by the Josef von Sternberg, was the first German sound film and made Marlene Dietrich famous. After Hitler came to power in 1933, lots of directors (like Fritz Lang), producers (like Erich Pommer), actors (like Marlene Dietrich and Peter Lorre) and other film professionals left Germany and moved to the United States, where they started a long and successful career in Hollywood. The Nazis founded the Reichfilmkammer (Reich Chamber of Film), the state body in charge with the film industry. Under Hitler’s regime, Jews and foreigners couldn’t work for the German film industry. What is more, film criticism was abolished in 1936; journalists could only write on the contents of films without expressing their opinion at all. Foreign film imports were restricted after 1936 8

and the German film industry was nationalized in 1937. Therefore, the German film industry became an arm of the totalitarian state. Even though there were some anti-Semitic films, most of them were works of entertainment. After World War II, the East German cinema took advantage of the country’s film infrastructure (especially the UFA studios). There were strict controls as regards topics included in films, which should contribute to the communist project of the state. Some years later, in the late 1970s, several filmmakers moved to the West, where they could work in better conditions. Unlike East Germany, in West Germany, after World War II people had free access to cinema from all over the world and cinema became very popular despite the arrival of a regular television service in the 1950s. In order to forget the war effects, the most popular genres during the 1950s were the Heimatfilm (“homeland film”), which showed love stories in rural settings (often in the mountains of Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland), and Rearmament, which led to a wave of war films depicting German soldiers of World War II as brave and apolitical people (for example, in the film The Doctor of Stalingrad, 1958, Germans are seen more civilized, humane and intelligent than Soviets). Since the late 1960s and 1970s, a new German cinema has emerged, highly influenced by the Italian neorealism and the French Nouvelle Vague. Thus, this new cinema has faced contemporary social problems in Germany and its past as well. Some of the most important film directors (and key names) are: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlöndorff and Wim Wenders. Some female directors (like Margarethe von Trotta and Helma Sanders-Brahms) have also achieved international recognition. On the other hand, quite a lot of intimate German films (coming from what is known as the “Berlin School”) have become successful especially in France. In 2003 the Deutsche Filmakademie (German Film Academy) was founded in Berlin and since then it has promoted the German cinema everywhere. The Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, is one of the most important film festivals in the world. It has been held in Berlin since 1951. Finally, we should highlight the Turkish-German Film Festival (in Nuremberg), which is also an important film festival in Germany. Today this festival is the world’s biggest showcase for the Turkish film outside Germany.


THE IRISH AND BRITISH CINEMA Since James Joyce opened the first cinema at 45 Mary Street, Dublin in 1909, the UK and especially Ireland have had one of the world’s highest per capita cinema attendance rates. One of the main film producers in Ireland in the early years of the silent film era were Sidney Olcott and his film company Kalem. Their first film was The Lad From Old Ireland (1910), which shows how an Irish boy (called Olcott) moves to America to escape the poverty of his country, though he doesn’t forget his relatives, who he tries to rescue when they are about to be evicted from their land. Some years later, Irish Destiny (1926), which deals with the Irish War of Independence, is one of the main Irish films from the silent period. As a result of the introduction of sound into the film industry, some foreign producers attracted by the beautiful Irish landscape and the presence of English-speaking actors in the Abbey Theatre decided to work in Ireland. One of the first films shot there in the new era of sound was Man of Aran (1934), a British fictional documentary film directed by Robert Flaherty. This documentary is about life on the Aran Islands, off the western coast of Ireland. Almost twenty years later, John Ford, an Irish-American film director, returned to Ireland to make one of the most influential films about Ireland: The Quiet Man (1952), a colourful and romantic comedy drama about a retired American boxer who travels to his native village in Ireland and where he finds love. In the late 1960s, David Lean films his Irish-set epic Ryan’s Daughter, a film that tries to be an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary. In the early 1970s, some Irish writers and directors started making films about the Irish society. That was the beginning of what would become known as the First Wave of the Irish Cinema. The new directors became interested in indigenous stories with a political consciousness instead of shooting films strongly influenced by the American film industry in Hollywood. Poitín (1977), directed by Bob Quinn, was the first feature film made entirely in Irish; this film tried to change the Hollywood Irish stereotypes established in other films like The Quiet Man. The Ballroom of Romance (1982), a film that, directed by Pat O’Connor and scripted by the novelist William Trevor, focused on the relationships between men and women in Ireland at the time of dominance of the showbands. Two years later, Pigs, a drama directed by Cathal Black, 10

showed in a realistic way some unconventional characters that hadn’t been seen on screen before. On the other hand, Pat Murphy’s Maeve (1982) and Anne Devlin (1984) were the first stories about Irish women told by an Irish woman director. As a result of the re-forming of the Irish Film Board in 1993 as well as the success of Alan Parker’s musical The Commitments, the Second Wave of the Irish cinema blossomed. After a reorganization of the Irish tax laws, more films were produced in Ireland in the 1990s than in the previous decades. The two most leading directors were Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan. Jim Sheridan produced My Left Foot in 1989 and Christy Brown’s autobiography in Dublin. Since Angel in 1982, Neil Jordan (film director and fiction writer) has become one of the most successful and prolific Irish film directors. His two collaborations with the writer Monaghan Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy (1997) and Breakfast on Pluto (2005), show his obsession with unconventional characters who struggle to survive and find their place in a deeply conservative society Following Sheridan and Jordan’s path, a new generation of Irish filmmakers has stood out by making complex and interesting films for an international audience. Paddy Breathnach’s humour made his debut with Ailsa in 1994; Breathnach has produced other films including I Went Down (1997), an Irish comedy crime film, and Man About Dog (2004), another comedy. The writer and director Gerard Stembridge made his debut with Guiltrip (1994), a story of a marriage break-up and domestic violence at a time when these issues started to be openly discussed. In the twenty-first century, the director Lenny Abrahamson made his debut with Adam & Paul (2004), a film that shows a day in the life of two drug addicts in Dublin, and continued to direct Garage (2007). In recent years, Irish cinema has evolved to an outstanding position in the global cinema stage. The recent economic crisis and its great impact on the Irish society has been shown in some films that deal with the aftermath of the Irish boom years. The United Kingdom has also had a very important film industry for over a century. The film production reached its zenith especially in 1936, although experts consider that the ‘golden age’ of the British cinema arrived in the 1940s, during which the acclaimed directors were David Lean, Michael Powell and Carol Reed. Alfred Hitchcock, who has also worked in the United States, has been one of the most renowned and prolific British film directors. He made 11

plenty of films for over fifty years. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Many British actors have also achieved international recognition like Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and Kate Winslet. Furthermore, some films with the highest-grossing films have been made in the United Kingdom; we must mention Harry Potter and James Bond. The Belfast Film Festival, founded in 1995, is the main film festival in Northern Ireland. The London Film Festival, officially called the BFI London Film Festival, has been organised annually by the British Film Institute (BFI) since 1953 and this festival is the largest public film event in the United Kingdom.

THE ITALIAN CINEMA The first public film screenings in Italy took place in 1896. Since the early 1900s, the Italian cinema has been very important mainly because of its great influence on film movements all over the world. Three main companies made the early Italian cinema develop at the beginning of the twentieth century: Cines (based in Rome), Ambrosio and Itala Film (both based in Turin). The first Italian films were adaptations of books set in ancient Roman times. In the late 1910s Italy became the first country with a cinematic avantgarde movement: Futurism, which regarded cinema as an ideal form of art manipulated by speed, special effects and editing. This new movement influenced Russian futurist cinema (Lev Kuleshov, Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Aleksandr Dovzhenko) as well as the German Expressionism. After a short period of decline in the 1920, the Italian cinema boomed again in the 1930s, when sound films started being made. During the fascist regime Cinecittà , a town (on the outskirts of Rome) that provided everything necessary for cinema, was built. Its studios, where lots of films have been shot so far, were founded in 1937. Under Mussolini’s regime, many propaganda films were produced (mainly in the late 1930s).


Once the Second World War was over, the Italian neorealist movement succeeded, though it had started in 1942. The neorealist films tried to describe the economic hardship the Italians had to cope with in a defeated country full of devastated roads that were shown in films, mostly shot outdoors. The main Italian neorealist film directors were Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, whose film Umberto D. (1952) was considered a masterpiece and the last neorealist film. In the late 1950s, as a result of the better living conditions in Italy, a new genre called pink neorealism emerged. A new generation of actresses (like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Lucia Bosé and Claudia Cardinale) started to become successful. But soon Commedia all’italiana replaced the pink neorealism. With a subtle humour, this genre dealt seriously with some important social issues. The main film directors related to this genre were Mario Monicelli and Dino Risi. In the mid-1960s Spaghetti Western became very popular. This term was used especially by American critics because most of these westerns were produced and directed by Italians. Unlike traditional westerns, these films were made on low budgets and shot in picturesque filming locations (in central and southern Italy). Sergio Leone’s Trilogia del dollaro (Dollars Trilogy) was the most successful production in this genre. Sometimes this kind of films combined the traditional western ambiance with the so-called Commedia all’italiana. During the 1970s and early 1980s, erotic Italian thrillers or giallos, produced by directors such as Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda and Dario Argento, had a great influence on the horror genre worldwide. These films combine suspense with shocking horror featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and often jarring musical arrangements (the expressive use of music is one of the main characteristics of these films). Between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, Italian cinema was in decline. During this period some comedy films with little artistic value were produced. Nevertheless, since the end of the 1980s, a new generation of film directors has emerged. Giuseppe’s Tornatore’s Nuevo Cinema Paradiso (New Paradise Cinema) won a Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1990 and so did Gabriele Salvatore’s Mediterraneo in 1992. Roberto Benigni’s La vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful) won three Oscars (Best Actor, Best Foreign Film and Best Music) in 1998. Other recent award-winning films are: Nanni Moretti’s La stanza del figlio (The Son’s Room), Paolo Sorretino’s Il Divo (The Divine) and Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra.


Lots of film festivals are held in Italy. The oldest and most prestigious one is the Venice International Film Festival, which, in addition, is the oldest international film festival in the world (it was founded in 1932). This festival is part of the Venice Biennale (Biennale di Venezia, founded in 1895), one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions in the world.

THE LATVIAN CINEMA Cinema in Latvia dates back to 1910, even though the first film screening in Riga took place in 1896. In 1914, most cities in Latvia had cinemas. Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, a pioneering film director and film theorist regarded as the “father” of montage (a special film editing), was born in Riga (Latvia). His films are masterpieces; his best film is Броненосец «Потёмкин», Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, 1925), which is one of the most influential propaganda films ever made and also the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. It’s based on real events occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against the officers of the Tsarist regime. During the 1930s some Latvian feature films were made, such as Lāčplēsis directed by Aleksandris Rusteikis (in 1930) and The Fisherman's Son (1939), directed by Vilis Lapenieks. However, after the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940, Lapenieks emigrated and the Riga Documentary Film Studio was founded. During the period of the Soviet government, plenty of film directors from the Soviet Russia moved to Latvia to create propaganda films to praise socialism. After Stalin’s death, the USSR State Committee for Cinematography (Goskino), a central state directory body of the Soviet Cinematography based in Moscow, provided the money. On the other hand, the Glavlit (official censorship and state secret protection agency) and the CPSU (The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the only legal ruling political party in the Soviet Union) had the control over the film industry.


During the 1950s and 1960s, films had to follow the Soviet regime’s instructions. Thus, films like Latviešu strēlniek astāsts (The Story of a Latvian Rifleman, in 1957), directed by Pavels Armands, and Tobago Changes Its Course (1965), directed by Aleksandras Leimais, were produced in Latvia. In 1963 the Riga Film Studio (founded in 1940) was enlarged and became one of the biggest film studios in the north of Europe. In the 1970s Aleksandras Leimais and Gunārs Pieses became the most popular directors in Latvia. They both made a series of historical adventure films. Put, vejini (Blow, Wind, 1973), directed by Pieses, and Naves ena (In the Shadow of Death, 1971) are both film adaptations from Latvian writers’ book stories. At this time, Limuzīns Jāņu naktsv krāsā (Limousine the Color of St John's Night, 1981), directed by Janis Streics (1981), was a very successful light parody on the Soviet system. Since the late 1970s, some film directors have made award-winning films. We must refer to Juris Podnieks, who made documentaries and achieved wide recognition within the Soviet Union. In the late 1980s Podnieks became successful abroad above all thanks to his documentary film Vai viegli būt jaunam? (Is It Easy to Be Young?). This controversial film combines dialogues in both Latvian and Russian and shows several young people looking for their place in life after growing up in the Soviet society and after the Chernobyl catastrophe. This film had a great impact on the Soviet Union in a very short time. Some Latvian directors (such as Aivars Freimanis, Rolands Kalnins and Andris Grinbergs) started a successful career during the last years of the Soviet period. Latvian actors like Lilita Berzina, Gunars Cilinskis and Karl Sebris became very popular as well. As the Soviet Union collapsed and Latvia became independent in 1991, Podnieks continued making documentaries as well as films focused on the rise of the national identity in the Baltic states, but he died very soon, in 1992. A new wave of Latvian filmmakers blossomed. Since then, the most successful Latvian filmmakers have been: Jānis Streičs, Jānis Putnins, Varis Brasla, Viesturs Kairiss and Laila Pakalnina. These directors have been award winners at several film festivals not only in Latvia but also especially abroad. Two great film festivals are held in Riga (Latvia) at present: the International Riga Film Festival (held in this city in even-numbered years) and 15

the International Riga Fantasy Film Festival (held in the same city in oddnumbered years).

THE ROMANIAN CINEMA Thanks to the serious efforts that have been made to reconstruct the history of the beginnings of the Romanian cinema, we know the first film screenings (very short actualities) took place in Romania almost at the end of the nineteenth century. At first, cinema was also an elite attraction, but little by little it became popular, especially in Bucharest. It is now known that Gheorghe Marinescu made the first scientific film in the world in 1898. Documentaries and newsreels became more important than fiction films. One of the problems Romanian film production had to cope with was the lack of a steady supply of financial resources. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Romanian authorities didn’t show interest in cinema. Thanks to Leon Popescu (a wealthy man who invested his earnings in film productions) and other film enthusiasts, there was an increasing film production in Romania, especially before Oficiul Naţional Cinematografic (O.N.C., the National Cinematographic Office) was founded at the end of the 1930s, although the O.N.C. produced its last film in 1943. After World War II, at the end of 1948 a new period in the Romanian cinema started. It was the period of the socialist cinema. The Romanian cinema was nationalized and became an instrument of ideological influence, fully subsidised by the new regime. Institutul de artăcinematografică (the Institute of Cinematographic Art) was founded in order to prepare actors, directors and cameramen for the new cinema. A new centre for film production (called Centrul de producţie cinematografică Buftea (the Buftea Studio), also known as C.P.C. Buftea, was created in the 1950s. The films produced during the communist era showed the struggle and achievements of the poorest Romanian workers, who attempted to keep away from the capitalist influences. Documentaries and newsreels, as well as fiction films, were used for communist propaganda. Ion-Popescu-Gopo (a very important personality in the Romanian cinematography and the founder of the modern Romanian cartoon school) created a humanoid character, the little man, who first appeared in Scurtă istorie (A Short History), an animation film telling the story of the Universe and humankind from an evolutionary perspective. This film won the Short Film Palme d'Or for best short film at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. Eight years later, Liviu Ciulei was given the Directors' Award at the 1965 Cannes Film 16

Festival for the film Pădurea spânzuraţilor (The Forest of the Hanged), the film version of the eponymous psychological novel written by Liviu Rebreanu. During the communist era Romania imported films not only produced in countries ruled by similar regimes (e.g. the Soviet Union) but also from the capitalist countries, even though in this case films were imported in a very rigorous way as regards themes. Meanwhile, some directors such as Lucian Pintilie suffered from the effects of censorship. His film Reconstituirea (The Reenactment), which indirectly criticized the communist regime, was withdrawn from cinema after its premiere and Lucian Pintilie was forced to work abroad. In the 1970s, Dan Piţa and Mircea Daneliuc started becoming important directors. However, it wasn’t until 1989 and especially after 2000 that the Romanian cinema started to take off abroad. Several Romanian directors have taken part in international film festivals (especially at the Cannes International Film Festival) in which they have won very important prizes. Thus, in 2005 Cristi Puiu’s second feature film won the prize Un certain regard at the Cannes Film Festival. This has been the most awarded Romanian film ever made. The following year, in 2006 another Romanian director, Corneliu Porumboiu, won the Camera d’Or (for best first film) with A fostsau n-a fost? (12:08 East of Bucharest) at the same festival. 2007 was an excellent year for the Romanian cinema. Two Romanian films were awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. On the one hand, Cristian Nemescu's California Dreamin' (nesfârșit), in English California Dreamin' (endless), won the prize Un Certain Regard and, on the other, Cristian Mungiu's 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) received the Palme d'Or. Thus, Cristian Mungiu became the first film director who won the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival (the Palme d’Or). In 2008 Marian Crişan's Megatron won the Palme d'Or for short film at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2010, Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle), a Romanian drama film directed by Florin Şerban, won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Finally, Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceaușescu (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu), directed by Andrei Ujică, was awarded the Great Prize of the documentary section of the Bergen International Film Festival. This film also won the Best East European Documentary Award at the 14th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava, in the Czech Republic. Besides all this, Romania has also been chosen by many foreign actors and directors (Terry Gilliam, Francis Ford Coppola, Sharon Stone, Andy Garcia, 17

Kevin Costner, among many others) to shoot their films owing to the beauty of its forests, its technical quality, its architectural diversity, its medieval castles and/or to reduce costs. Since the early 2000s, a lot of film festivals have been founded in Romania. Many of them are held in Bucharest, but there also film festivals in Timisoara, Constanta and other places.

THE SPANISH CINEMA The first film screenings in Spain took place in Barcelona in May 1895. Eduardo Jimeno and Alexandre Promio made their first films at the end of the nineteenth century. However, the first Spanish film director who became successful abroad was Segundo de Chomón, who worked in France and Italy and made some fantasy films in Spain. Barcelona, first, and Madrid, afterwards, became the leading cities as regards cinema. Films belonging to the genre called españoladas (historical epics of Spain, very popular until the late 1960s), as well as historical dramas and adaptations of newspaper serials were successful during the years of the silent Spanish cinema. In 1928 Luis Buñuel, together with Ernesto Giménez Caballero, founded the first cine-club (film society) in Madrid. Seven years later, in 1935, just a year before the Spanish Civil War broke out, Manuel Casanova founded the Compañía Industrial Film Española S.A. (Spanish Industrial Film Company Inc, CIFESA) and introduced sound to the Spanish film-making. This company supported young film directors like Luis Buñuel. During the Spanish Civil War, both fighting sides used cinema as a means of propaganda and censorship. After Franco’s victory, the new dictatorship imposed compulsory dubbing of films into Spanish. Censorship was applied to film industry too; plenty of actors had to go into exile and CIFESA continued producing films. During the 1950s the success of the film Marcelino pan y vino (Marcelino, Bread and Wine, 1955) started making some child actors and actresses famous. Some of these actors were known as Joselito, Marisol, Rocío Dúrcal or Pili y Mili. On the other hand, El ultimo cuplé, directed by Juan de Orduña and starred by Sara Montiel, was very successful. 18

Neorealism had a great influence on the Spanish films produced by young film directors (like Manel Mur Oti, José Antonio Nieves Conde and Luis García Berlanga) in the 1950s and 1960s. Although they produced a wide range of films, they all reflected a strong social criticism. At the same time, lots of Spanish technical professionals worked for several American superproductions (like Solomon and Sheba, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago), which were shot in Spain. As a result of the founding of the Escuela Oficial de Cine (the Official Cinema School) in 1962, some new directors (like Mario Camus, Miguel Picazo and Carlos Saura) with a left-wing ideology, stood out. During the 1960s Fernando Fernán Gómez started a brilliant career, together with other directors from Barcelona (Vicente Aranda, Jaime Camino and Gonzalo Suárez). During the dictatorship, some of the most renowned international film festivals in Spain were started, such as the festivals taking place in San Sebastian (since 1953) and in Sitges (since 1967). The end of the dictatorship brought about the abolition of censorship; thus, some films started to be made in other languages spoken in Spain, especially in Catalan (helped by the Institut de Cinema Català, the Catalan cinema institute). During the first years of democracy, a new generation of Spanish film directors (like Jaime Chávarri, José Luis Garci, Eloy de la Iglesia, PilarMiró and Pedro Olea) emerged. In 1986 the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España (the Spanish Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences) was founded and in 1987 the Goya Awards were created to recognize excellence in the Spanish cinema. Since its founding (in 2008), the Acadèmia del Cinema Català (the Catalan Film Academy) has contributed to the promotion and internationalization of Catalan films. Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro Amenábar, Fernando Colomo, Álex de la Iglesia, Bigas Luna, Ventura Pons, Santiago Segura and Fernando Trueba are some of the most outstanding Spanish film directors. Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem and Sergi López are very renowned actors at present; with regard to actresses, Victoria Abril, Carmen Maura, Maribel Verdú and mainly Penélope Cruz have become very popular so far.


A lot of film festivals are held in several Spanish cities and towns, especially in Barcelona, Cรกdiz, Gijรณn, Granada, Lleida, Mรกlaga, las Palmas de Gran Canaria, San Sebastiรกn, Sitges, Torellรณ, Valencia and Valladolid.

USEFUL WEBSITES a) Cinema in Europe and in the world (in general)


b) Croatian cinema

c) German cinema


d) Irish and British cinema

d) Italian cinema (see also: List of actors from Italy; List of actresses from Italy; List of film directors from Italy; List of Italian movies)


e) Latvian cinema

f) Romanian cinema 23

g) Spanish cinema cc2fe67132cb/consejeriasexteriores/brasil/recursosvirtuales/temasymate riales/cineespanol.pdf


Essay on european cinema  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you